Former Gov. Sarah Palin and her “buddy” Glenn Beck appeared in front of thousands of fans in Anchorage on Saturday night, Palin’s first big speaking appearance in Alaska since she resigned after two and a half years as governor last summer.
Palin said in introducing Beck at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center that the conservative television and radio personality has inspired millions. “(To) know why we are an exceptional nation, know why we never have to apologize for being Americans,” Palin told the cheering crowd.
Palin also appeared at a rally organized by a Tea Party group in Wasilla earlier Saturday to commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, where she talked up U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and said it would be “futile” for Sen. Lisa Murkowski to launch an independent write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the Republican primary election.
At Saturday night’s show Palin and Beck mocked Internet speculation that they would be making an announcement about a 2012 presidential run together. "I'd like to announce that in 2012, we will both be ... voting," Beck said.
Beck asked Palin if she was going to run. She didn’t answer, instead responding by asking him if he was going to run.
Beck said that he was not.
Palin said she’d make any announcement on a KWHL drive-time talk radio show.
“If there is going to be some big national announcement I’m going to do it where it’s most worthy. I’m going to do something big, even bigger then Glenn Beck. It’s going to happen on the Bob and Mark show,” Palin said.
Beck spoke until after 11 p.m. He talked about history and the founding fathers. He called on people to find faith in God, any God, even if they find it on a mountaintop, and to have hope and charity. At one point he appeared to tear up, a trademark.
Beck prowled the stage, at turns sounding like a motivational speaker or a revivalist preacher. He said that individuals need to fill the breach and restore what he said has been lost in the nation throughout the years.
“We’re in trouble, the country is coming apart at the seams. And it’s not about the next election, it’s not about Barack Obama. It is about the fundamental values and principles that have been vanishing from our nation for a very long time. And the principles and values are easy to restore,” he said.
Palin told of doing an interview last year with Beck under the Statue of Liberty in New York. She said she told Beck that her soldier son, Track, had gotten a tattoo of the statue on his forearm and she’d just been texting with him about what they knew about the monument. She said Beck sent Track a book with a chapter on the meaning of the Statue of Liberty.
"This Statue of Liberty was gifted to us by foreign leaders, really as a warning to us, it was a warning to us to stay unique and to stay exceptional from other countries. Certainly not to go down the path of other countries that adopted socialist policies,” Palin said to cheers from the crowd.
Beck and Palin were interrupted at one point by a heckler, who was escorted out. Anchorage talk radio host Eddie Burke evidently had some role in corralling the protestor, as Palin said “thanks Eddie, Eddie Burke,” to applause from the Dena'ina Center crowd. “We all know each other here,” she told Beck.
“I know, it’s like a high school classroom,” Beck said.
There were about 80 protestors gathered outside the Dena'ina Center as people waited in long lines to get into the event, after paying between $73.75 and $225 for each tickets.
Beck has said he will donate his speaking fee. The Associated Press reported that Palin wasn't paid for her appearance, according to Christopher Balfe, president of Beck's media company. The amount of the fee wasn't disclosed, and was to go to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides scholarships and services to families of military members.
But protestors said Beck and Palin's true aim was promoting themselves and getting richer with divisive rhetoric. The protestors held signs like “Quitters and Liars Revival” and “Quit 4 Money” and “False Prophets.”
“I do not believe Sarah Palin has any motivation other than making money and I believe Glenn Beck is the same way,” said Paula Standefer, who drove from Kenai for the Dena'ina Center protest and a similar one held at the Anchorage park strip earlier in the day. “He’s laughing all the way to the bank.”
Standefer said she was disturbed by the number of younger people who were waiting in line to see Beck, saying “I see people too young to be buying into his b.s.”
Mark Knudsen, 34, wearing shades and drinking a Rockstar energy drink, was among those who were waiting in line to get in to see Beck. “I like his conservative way of thinking,” Knuden said. “Anti-socialist government.”
One man in line wearing a suit, who didn’t want to give his name, said he didn’t want to see Palin because of her policies as governor including a large tax increase on the oil companies, but he came because he likes Beck.
John Fleming said he thinks Palin is a good common sense messenger and Beck has some “simple basic moral values that are starting to spread.” Fleming, who said he owns a small Anchorage software business, said America has a problem with political correctness is running amok.
Palin earlier Saturday made an appearance at a rally in her hometown of Wasilla by the Conservative Patriots Group, Alaska's main tea party faction. (Photo gallery here .
Palin spoke for a few minutes at the event, which marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. Senate candidate Miller also spoke.
Palin received an enthusiastic welcome, with people surrounding her for autographs and pictures at the Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex. Palin told the crowd that the rest of the country can learn from Alaska, which she called this "most perfect state."
"I thank you from the bottom of my heart for not just welcoming me in my hometown but for being who you are, true patriots holding on to time-tested truths. Knowing some basic principles that again the rest of America I think can learn from so many Alaskans who believe this -- those time-tested truths that are based on the government that governs least governs best," Palin said.
Palin walked through the crowd, shaking hands and talking to people while her young daughter, Piper, urged her to wrap it up. One person asked her about the "mainstream media."
"The mainstream media has obviously a biased agenda against common-sense conservatives. That's no secret," Palin replied. "And we just happen to represent a lot of common-sense conservatives. And they just don't like it. So they make things up."
Palin also talked up Miller as she spoke to people.
"Joe someday will help lead the United States Senate. I guarantee. Mark my words," Palin said.
She told reporters that she was shaking her head over incumbent Sen. Murkowski, who Miller beat in the Republican primary, talking about how she is considering remaining in the Senate race as an independent write-in candidate.
"Joe Miller is going to win the general (election), so it seems like it's a futile effort there for a write-in effort. But she certainly has that right to do so," Palin said.
In his remarks to the Wasilla crowd, Miller said the nation was attacked on Sept. 11 "because we're American." He said the U.S. is a threat to its enemies because of its "exceptionalism," its freedoms and constitutional restraint of government.
"We as a nation have been activated. We've been activated through 9/11. We're now activated in a political sense," Miller said. "We see a movement across the United States right now that is moving this country in a direction that restores foundations, that restores constitutional principles and makes us proud to be Americans again."
By SEAN COCKERHAM l firstname.lastname@example.org